I keep hearing “whatever you do, don’t mix your genres” thing and I understand it in the broad sense, but where the heck is the demarcation line?
If you’re not writing a love story, does that mean you have to keep all love elements out of it? If it’s not a comedy, are you not allowed to let your characters tell jokes? I’ve been accused of writing fantasy because I have another dimension in the story, referred to but not visited (there’s a lot of scientific discussion in favor of other dimensions, by the way) and because I accept the validity of psychic perception in a down to earth way (you can’t get much meeker than Aleisha). Psychic perception, other realms, the ethereal and the spiritual have been with us since the dawn of time. It might have gone in and out of favor, which, by the way, doesn’t make it true or false, but it most certainly will continue the cycle and have a place in the future, both pro and con.
So far, although I state I write science fiction, I’ve been soft on the other aspects and whether or not I have gone beyond the limits of sci-fi. I write about people in the distant future who, unsurprisingly, turn out to be just like us (shocker!) – I have planetary colonization, spaceships and big Relay stations in space that teleport ships across vast distances. That’s sci-fi. It’s got aliens and advanced technology and force-field shields and energy-blasting guns. That’s sci-fi.
It’s got low-tech, too, old-fashion projectile guns that shoot bullets. Does that make it a Western? Hell, no, that makes it realistic. Since when does high tech land everywhere at once? You might have climate control in your home – I’ve got a combustion heater. The last house I lived in had an open fireplace, and a little while back, I had no house at all! We cooked over and warmed ourselves in front of an outside campfire, just as millions of people do today all around the world.
My projectile guns (in the story) are cheap. Pioneers in a new land or on a new planet have a history of going cheap. A good fancy energy-blasting gun might be what everyone wants, but they’re expensive, and bullets are cheap and can be made locally. So, they have bullets. It’s still a sci-fi.